A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • An essential tool for individuals, organizations, and communities of all sizes to jump-start dialogue on racism and bias and to transform well-intentioned statements on diversity into concrete actions—from a leading Harvard social psychologist.
FINALIST FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES AND MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD
“Livingston has made the important and challenging task of addressing systemic racism within an organization approachable and achievable.”—Alex Timm, co-founder and CEO, Root Insurance Company
How can I become part of the solution? In the wake of the social unrest of 2020 and growing calls for racial justice, many business leaders and ordinary citizens are asking that very question. This book provides a compass for all those seeking to begin the work of anti-racism. In The Conversation, Robert Livingston addresses three simple but profound questions: What is racism? Why should everyone be more concerned about it? What can we do to eradicate it?
For some, the existence of systemic racism against Black people is hard to accept because it violates the notion that the world is fair and just. But the rigid racial hierarchy created by slavery did not collapse after it was abolished, nor did it end with the civil rights era. Whether it’s the composition of a company’s leadership team or the composition of one’s neighborhood, these racial divides and disparities continue to show up in every facet of society. For Livingston, the difference between a solvable problem and a solved problem is knowledge, investment, and determination. And the goal of making organizations more diverse, equitable, and inclusive is within our capability.
Livingston’s lifework is showing people how to turn difficult conversations about race into productive instances of real change. For decades he has translated science into practice for numerous organizations, including Airbnb, Deloitte, Microsoft, Under Armour, L’Oreal, and JPMorgan Chase. In The Conversation, Livingston distills this knowledge and experience into an eye-opening immersion in the science of racism and bias. Drawing on examples from pop culture and his own life experience, Livingston, with clarity and wit, explores the root causes of racism, the factors that explain why some people care about it and others do not, and the most promising paths toward profound and sustainable progress, all while inviting readers to challenge their assumptions.
Social change requires social exchange. Founded on principles of psychology, sociology, management, and behavioral economics, The Conversation is a road map for uprooting entrenched biases and sharing candid, fact-based perspectives on race that will lead to increased awareness, empathy, and action.
Social psychologist Livingston debuts with an optimistic guide for "turn difficult conversations about race into productive outcomes." Drawing on his work as a diversity consultant for corporations including Airbnb, Livingston structures the book as a "road map" for fostering the kinds of discussions that can lead to a more equitable society. Steps for uniting people of different backgrounds in the cause of anti-racism include coming up with a working definition of racism, identifying the structural origins of racial inequality, discussing the psychological causes of in-group bias, sketching the moral and economic costs of racial prejudice, and outlining the steps organization leaders and employees can make toward "real progress." Livingston includes a wealth of sociological research into how stereotypes form and the ways in which Blacks and other minority groups have been held back in American society, and points to the success of recent public and private sector initiatives including a JPMorgan Chase program to improve the financial wellness and educational and career prospects of people of color. Readers looking to implement the lessons of Ibram X. Kendi's How to Be An Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility in a professional setting will find this to be a useful guide.